A season for rebuilding
Eudora High School softball coach Cara Kimberlin doesn't know what to expect from a squad that lost six seniors last year.
"This could be kind of a rebuilding year," the second-year head coach said. "Our defense will be stronger, but with hitting you can't tell. One night you can hit well, and the next you don't."
Kimberlin is planning more hitting-oriented practices before the April 2 season-opener against Pleasant Ridge.
"Fundamentals are the basis of everything, and we have to work them into every game," Kimberlin said. "We focused on defense for the first couple weeks of practice, but we will take more swings the next couple of weeks."
Last season, senior Melanie Smith handled most of the pitching duties for the 5-16 Cardinals. Kimberlin will look for replacements in the youthful pitching trio of sophomore Kelly Spence, junior Mallorie Cleveland, and freshman Alissa Hamilton.
"We'll be competitive, but you never know from day to day," Kimberlin said. "Most of the pitching will be on Krystal Spence's shoulders."
Krystal Spence said Hamilton, who will also play catcher, should be a great addition for Eudora.
"She'll help us out a lot," she said. "I'm going to try to step up and do well."
Although the Cards may not have much experience as a team, they return seniors Andrea Ahrens, Julia Born, and Karen Grosdidier who hit a team-high .381 last season in the outfield. Sophomore Lauren Kracl joined varsity midseason as a freshman and finished with a .368 batting average.
Junior Mary Johnson and freshman Kayla Moyer will also play outfield for the Cardinals.
Juniors Nicole Born, Crystal Landis and sophomore Mallory Ross will make up the all-underclassman infield.
Kimberlin said the Pleasant Ridge game would be a great warm-up game for Eudora. After playing the doubleheader against the Rams, Eudora will face all nine Frontier League squads.
"Last year we gave (the first game) to them because of errors at key times," Kimberlin said. "We bounced back in the second game."
Last season, the Cardinals also split with league rivals Paola, Prairie View, Spring Hill and Wellsville.
Kimberlin expects Baldwin, Paola and Spring Hill to be the Cards' toughest foes.
"The competition gets tougher and tougher with more kids playing softball in the summer," Kimberlin said. "I would foresee Baldwin at the top of the league. Beating Paola and Spring Hill were our biggest wins last year."